The latest ABS retail trade figures show that Australian retail turnover fell 0.1 per cent in June 2011, seasonally adjusted, following a fall of 0.6 per cent the previous month.

The industry turnover was highly affected by the turnover of department stores which fell -3.2 per cent. Household goods retailing and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services both dropped -0.7 per cent. But turnover rose in other retailing (1.2 per cent), food retailing (0.4 per cent) and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (0.2 per cent).

National Retail Association (NRA) said the “disappointing outcomes” only illustrates that the federal government needs to make immediate moves to fix the tax loophole, which is giving offshore online businesses an unfair advantage over Australian retailers.

“There have been several studies in recent months showing that Australians are being drawn to overseas-based on-line businesses, where they do not have to pay GST, import duty or customers charges on their purchases.” Gary Black, NRA executive director, said.

“We have also seen an ongoing slump in domestic retail activity which has now dragged on for more than a year.

“While some of the factors influencing purchasing decisions are beyond the control of the Federal Government, it does have the power to close the unfair tax loophole, and give Australian businesses an even chance.”

On a state-by-state basis, Western Australia continues to be the national stand out where it rose 0.6 per cent, with South Australia (-0.8 per cent), New South Wales (-0.5 per cent), Tasmania (0.0 per cent) and the ACT (-0.7 per cent) all going backwards.